Saturday, 2 January 2016

Home for Christmas

It has been wonderful to be back home in the UK for Christmas. My month here has whizzed by very quickly. Apart from a few days of supply teaching at my old school (to fund my flight back to Zambia), I have been mostly catching up with friends and family over coffee, lunch or dinner. It has been great to see everyone. 

There are so many contrasts between life here in the UK and my life in Zambia. I feel a bit like I have two very different lives! Even when I arrived at Heathrow a few weeks ago I noticed how much more fast paced everything was. One man was complaining how long he had to wait for his cases when the belt got stuck at baggage reclaim, which made me laugh as nobody in Zambia would think of making a fuss about that sort of thing!

I don't feel like I've struggled with reverse culture shock, probably because I've been looking forward to seeing people, and because it's only been a brief visit home. There is such a huge difference between the two countries when it comes to money, time and the climate, which means I can't live here like I do in Zambia, or vice versa. I've found it best to try and accept this and to fit in with where I am right now, rather than continually comparing things. There are positives and negative aspects of both cultures and plenty of things we can learn from each other, so I don't see one country as 'better' than the other.

The supermarkets in both the UK and Zambia were well prepared for the build up to Christmas. Shoprite, where I do my food shopping in Ndola, had Christmas decorations up with festive music playing before I left for the UK at the end of November.

It was fun to be back in the UK for the few weeks before Christmas. I had a Cadburys chocolate advent calendar, saw the lights in London and gatecrashed my old work's Christmas party! My Christmas Day was filled with lots of UK traditions: spending the day with family, giving and receiving presents, drinking prosecco, singing carols, eating turkey and all the trimmings, playing games, going for a walk and watching some Christmas TV. 

One of my Zambian friends told me a bit about how she celebrates Christmas over there. She goes to church on Christmas Eve - some services are overnight prayers while most places just hold a regular service. Then she attends another church service on Christmas Day. Zambian people usually gather with others for Christmas but this may not always be with family. Lots of families share a meal on Christmas Day and may eat things they don't usually have at other times of the year. This may be food like rice or spaghetti, or macaroni with chicken. Nshima (maize) is a staple Zambian food which is eaten all year round, including at Christmas. The giving and receiving of Christmas presents is rare.

Whatever country you live in, I hope you've had a lovely Christmas with family and friends. Tomorrow I will be making the journey back to Zambia for my second year there and so I will continue to update my blog to let you know how I am getting on.

Happy New Year!

Selling Zambian cards and gifts to raise money for Arise

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